WGT - Tourist Attractions
The City is safe and still has some of that Eastern European feel to it. It has changed in the 15 years that I have been coming to Leipzig and the biggest change is probably due to the World Cup in 2006. Leipzig was a host city and made huge changes to update its already excellent tram network and to replace shabby buildings. Below I have listed a number of places you may want to visit (should you have the time)
Battle of the Nations Monument (VOLKERSCHLACHTDENKMAL)
One of Leipzig's most important monuments - and a leading example of the Wilhelmine school of architecture - is the magnificent Battle of the Nations Monument. Completed in 1913, this imposing structure was constructed in the monumental style favored at the turn of the 20th century and was commissioned to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of the Nations in Leipzig in 1813. There's a viewing platform at a height of 91 meters, and although it's a 500-step climb to the top, it's worth it for the spectacular views. Informative English language guided and audio tours are available.
Old City Hall
The Markt in Leipzig, for many centuries the hub of city life, is dominated by the Old City Hall (Rathaus), a Renaissance building erected in 1556, but much altered in later centuries. The tower, with its Baroque crown, is placed asymmetrically over the main entrance, above which is a roofed balcony used for public announcements and proclamations involving trumpeters in traditional costumes. The colonnades along the front were built in 1907, replacing the wooden shops and booths that once stood here, and inside is a museum dedicated to the history of Leipzig.
St. Thomas Church
Southwest of the Leipzig's Markt stands St. Thomas Church (Thomaskirche), home of the world-famous St. Thomas Choir. Built in 1212 as the church of an Augustinian house, it was much altered in later centuries, and in the 15th century was given the form of a Late Gothic hall-church in the style of Upper Saxony. The west front dates from renovation work carried out between 1872 and 1889. Martin Luther preached here in 1539, and Johann Sebastian Bach was the church's choirmaster from 1723 to 1750 (his remains are interred here). Opposite the church is the Bosehaus, home of the Bach Research Institute and Memorial and the Bach Archives.
The Grassi Museum was established in 1895 and moved to its current home in 1929. The building is in fact three excellent museums in one, housing the city's ethnography, applied and decorative arts, and musical instrument collections. The Museum of Musical Instruments is a particular favorite for visitors and includes instruments from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, as well as hands-on sound laboratories and extensive archives. Be sure to take a stroll through the city's impressive train station. Built in 1915, it is the largest railroad terminal in Europe.
Museum of Fine Arts
Although housed in one of Leipzig's newest architectural wonders, the Museum of Fine Arts (Museum der bildenden Künste) was in fact founded in 1837 and only settled into its new large-cubed home in 2004. One of Germany's most important national cultural institutions, the museum boasts more than 3,500 paintings from the Middle Ages to the present, including works by Dutch, German, and Italian Masters. A must see for art lovers of all levels of interest, the museum also has a well-stocked library.
The Naschmarkt and the Mädlerpassage
Behind the Old City Hall in Leipzig is the Naschmarkt, a quiet little square laid out in 1556. On the north side is the Old Commercial Exchange (Alte Handelsbörse), an Early Baroque building dating from 1678 now used for community events. Opposite the Naschmarkt is the Mädlerpassage, one of the many splendid old shopping arcades so characteristic of Leipzig, that links to Königshofpassage and Messehofpassage. It's here that you'll find Auerbach's Keller where Mephistopheles practiced his magic arts in Goethe's Faust, its entrance marked by a sculpture from 1913 depicting the characters from the infamous cellar scene. A newer nearby attraction is theSachsenplatz, a public square with ornamental fountains and a ceramic column depicting scenes from the city's history.
St. Nicholas Church
Built in the 12th century and considerably altered in various styles in later centuries, St. Nicholas Church (Nikolaikirche) continues to impress visitors to Leipzig. Highlights include its striking 75-meter-high tower, as well as its rich Neoclassical interior with its lovely galleries and altarpieces. This church, too, was graced with performances by Bach, and its famous organ is widely considered one of the most impressive examples of its kind in Europe. The church also played an important role as a focal point of demonstrations against communist rule in East Germany in 1989.
The dominant feature in Augustusplatz is the 34-story building occupied by Leipzig University, with its panoramic café at 110 meters. One of the world's oldest universities - and the second oldest in Germany - Leipzig University was founded in 1409, and more than 60 per cent of its buildings were destroyed in WWII. Today, the university is home to some of Leipzig's most important attractions: the Egyptian Museum, theMuseum for Musical Instruments, the Museum of Antiquities, and the University Art Collection with its numerous paintings and sculptures dating back to the Middle Ages. Incorporated in the lecture theater block is the Schinkeltor from 1836 and the surviving entrance to the old university, the Augusteum. Of interest nearby is the old Moritzbastei, a bastion dating back to 1515 and the only relic of the town's old fortifications
Leipzig Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden at the University, known locally as the Leipziger Botanische Gärten, began in 1877 as a medicinal plant garden, but can in fact trace its roots back as far as 1542. Despite devastation during WWII, this nine-acre site features more than 7,000 species of plants with examples from Eastern Europe, North America, Asia, and South America. A highlight of any visit is exploring the large greenhouses with subtropical and tropical plants from around the world. Also of interest is the Leipzig Zoological Garden, a zoo that's been around since 1878. Covering 56 acres, this fun attraction boasts 850 different species and is renowned for its unique animal shelters and breeding programs
Immediately east of the University in Leipzig is the Gewandhaus, the magnificent home of the world-famous Gewandhaus Orchestra. Built in 1981, the three-story hall, with the amphitheater-like Grosser Saal (Schuke organ) and Kleiner Saal, is decorated with numerous paintings by modern artists and is well known for its excellent acoustics. In addition to its first-rate concert program, numerous educational and special events are hosted here
New Town Hall
Standing majestically at the southwest corner of Leipzig's Old Town is the New Town Hall - Neues Rathaus - a monumental building in the style of the German Late Renaissance. Completed in 1905, this massive building occupies the site of the 13th-century Pleissenburg, with parts of the old castle being incorporated in the 115-meter-high central tower.
The Mendelssohn House in Leipzig is the only authentically preserved residence of the great composer, Felix Mendelssohn. Originally built in 1844, the house has undergone much restoration based on the original plans and contains many artifacts and personal objects. Further information about the composer is revealed in written documents contained in the house, along with displays and exhibits relating to specific works. A series of regular Sunday concerts are well worth attending (additional admission fees required). A statue of Mendelssohn can be seen outside St. Thomas Church.
In a way unrivalled by any other square in Leipzig, Augustusplatz reflects the architectural history of Leipzig in the 20th century and, with the buildings enclosing and adjoining it, offers visitors a lesson in the change in architectural styles and methods during the past decades. In 1929, the building of the 13-storey Europa tower block was seen as revolutionary. To its right are witnesses to the Stalin German party leader Ulbricht, the former hotel "Deutschland", now hotel "Mercure", and the glass and aluminum structure of the Central Post Office. The end of this frontage is marked by the city's tallest residential block. Together with the new Gewandhaus building, this 31-storey construction built in 1972 dates from Honecker's period of rule. The neo-Baroque Mende Fountain (18m high), built in the square in 1886, is the only remaining testimony to one of Germany's leading late 19th century square ensembles. Rebuilt and bearing new pieces of porphyry, it stands before the New Gewandhaus and forms a striking contrast to the new and modernly designed Augustusplatz with its jet fountain in front of the Opera House.
MÄDLER PASSAGE ARCADES AND AUERBACHS KELLER
The Franconian medical professor from Auerbach, Heinrich Stromer, erected Auerbachs Hof in the Renaissance style between 1530 and 1538 as a passage courtyard. It would later go on to be known as Mädler Passage arcades. He inherited this in 1519 and in 1525 he opened a very fashionable wine bar. In 1625 the building was converted to a shopping arcade which has been impressively described by Goethe. The notoriety of "Auerbachs Keller" is due to the Keller-scene from Goethe's "Faust". Bronze figures by Leipzig's Sculpter Matthieu Molitor effectively accentuate its entrance.
THE WISDOM TOOTH SKYSCRAPER
Lost in Leipzig? Look for the Skyscraper; you can see it from just about anywhere in the city. Nicknamed the ‘Wisdom Tooth’ it was originally one of the University buildings, and was built 1968 - 75. It has a height of 142 m, and has 34 floors built in the shape of an open book. It has the letters MDR at the top stand for Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk or Middle German Radio, which is the large publicly-owned radio and Television Corporation serving this part of Germany. Since March 2002 the restaurant on the topmost floor has reopened. On top you have a unique panorama view over Leipzig.
The Zoo in Leipzig is located to the North of the City Centre and was first opened in 1878. It was taken over by the city of Leipzig in 1920 after World War I and now covers about 225,000 m² and contains more than 2,000 animals of 500 different species. The zoo is internationally noted for its large carnivore exhibit. And to date has bred more than 2,000 lions, 250 rare Siberian tigers. Its going to take a number of hours to get around the site and apart from the carnivores you can expect to see Elephants, Giraffe, Zebra, Gorilla and Crocodiles. opening hours are 9am to 7pm. (Highly Recommended)
The 110 m high City Hall tower is situated at the base of the old castle buildings. Its lookout platform can be accessed during guided tours. The building in Dittrichring, which is popularly called the "Round Corner", used to house the Leipzig STASI (secret police) headquarters until 1989. It was one of the focal points during the Monday Demonstrations which lead the way to the peaceful revolution German reunification. Inside are exhibits on propaganda, absurd disguises, surveillance photos and mounds of papier-mâché, all that remains of secret documents shredded and soaked before the German Democratic Republic fell. Opening hours are 10am to 6pm.
Leipzig’s Egyptian Museum is a fascinating repository of all things from the land of the Pharaohs. Run by the University of Leipzig, the museum displays all manner of artifacts including sarcophagi, monuments, items from tombs and more. There are faithful reconstructions and exhibits on show which help to explain the history of Egypt and life there.
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS - FURTHER AFIELD
The Cospudener lake is a artificial lake south of Leipzig. It was developed from a open-cast mining pit, which was flooded. The lake rose like a phoenix from the ashes. Where clear water invites to take a swim nowadays, coal was extracted for many years under GDR-rule until the change. The lake is situated between the cities of Leipzig, Markkleeberg and Zwenkau. Lake Cospuden is 3.5 km long and 1.5 km wide. The change from opencast mining into a modern recreation area with many leisure amenities can be seen from the 35 meter high observation tower “Bistumshöhe”.Numerous options await guests who prefer more quiet activities. Recommendations are swimming and relaxing on the north and east bank, restful hours in the “Sauna-im-See”, a round of golf on the 9-hole golf-course, a boat trip with the motor boat “Cospuden” or a cozy discovering tour around the lake with narrow-gauge railway “Schlendrian”.
BELANTIS ENTERTAINMENT PARK
The Belantis entertainment park, south of Leipzig, is Eastern Germany's largest recreational park. It is on the. On 27 hectares there are 35 attractions and three shows now spread across the surface of a former brown coal area themed on seven ranges of topics. The park was opened on 5 April 2003 after 19 months construction period. You will find Europe's largest pyramid here that is converted into a massive water slide, various roller coasters and other rides.
AGRA - MESSEPARK
The spacious park was created as a landscape park. It comprises more than 250 different kinds of trees and bushes interspersed with temples, statues and columns. Thousands of visitors are attracted by events throughout the year, an ecological education program and the enchanted beauty. “Weißes Haus”, a villa with a magnificent hall of mirrors present itself as the pride of the park. The French summer residence “Petit Trianon” (situated in the Versailles castle grounds) was taken as a model for the impressing architecture of Weißes Haus. Being a registry office many couples from all over the country experience very romantic and significant wedding ceremonies in Markkleeberg’s White House. The extensive “agra-Parle” is bounded by “agra-Messepark”. The fair park serves for many different events like numerous animal and agriculture exhibitions, fairs and presentations (As well as being the main venue for WGT).
All contributing to agra-Park’s fabulous reputation.
HISTORIC TORHAUS MARKKLEEBERG
The former feudal estate, situated in the east of Markkleeberg, consist of the Torhaus (the gateway to the former estate that was used as housing area) and the “Auenkirche” (a small church) forming an outstanding architectural ensemble in the city. The Torhaus lay in the center of severe fighting action during the Battle of the Nations in 1813. The ambitious museum in the Torhaus is dedicated to the Battle of the Nations, also to the feudal estate’s history, to life in those days and customs in our area. Many visitors observe groups in historic uniforms from all over Europe re-enacting scenes of the Battle of the Nations with great interest every October.
COLDITZ CASTLE - A GREAT DAY OUT (Highly Recommended)
If you have the time go and visiti Colditz Castle. A truly wonderful castle with 700+ rooms. Located only 27 miles from Leipzig its quite easy to reach either by bus or taxi. In its 1000 year historic past, the castle has witnessed a diverse range of use, from a Royal Hunting Lodge to a psychiatric hospital. Yet, the castle is more famously known as the notorious German military prison Oflag IVC which held Allied Prisoners of War Officers and Allied prisoners who held significant status during World War 2.
At Colditz Castle you can see the actual escape artefacts and uniforms produced by the ingenious POWs in our Oflag IVC Escape Museum. Guided tours are provided in English, French and German detailing the legendary escapes made by Allied POWs imprisoned here at the castle from 1940 to 1945 - a prison considered by the German military authorities at the time to be escape-proof.The castle also offers a World War 2 display dedicated to Poland, a souvenir shop selling books, postcards, pens and t-shirts and a ceramic workshop
FROM LEIPZIG TO SCHLOSS COLDITZ
The best way to get to Colditz is via the bus from outside the Hauptbahnhof. The bus to Colditz runs only on weekdays, and leaves roughly every hour or so between 6:30 a.m. and 6:45 p.m., but not necessarily on the hour. The bus stop is pretty easy to find. Go out the main entrance (towards the city) and as soon as you pass the doors, go left and about 10 yards away you should see a bus stop (a post with a yellow circle on top). The bus schedule is attached to the post.The ride to Colditz ambles through a number of little towns and gives you a good view of the surrounding countryside. It is very comfortable and air-conditioned. The bus ride takes 1 hour and 22 minutes and you don't have to change. Don't get off at the first stop (Leipzigerstrasse) in Colditz; you'll be on the wrong side of the river. Get off at the next stop next to a playing field (Sportplatz is the name of the stop) which is just outside the old part of town. Ask the driver to be sure. Cross the street and head into the town on Nicolaistrasse. Go about two blocks until the street ends, then go left, then immediately right onto Untermarkt and you will be in the old town center with its market square and, of course, the castle above it. The bus back to Leipzig leaves from the Sportplatz